London Hearts Supporters Club

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<-Srce <-Type Sunday Herald ------ Report Type-> Srce->
Anatoly Korobochka <-auth Alan Campbell auth-> Craig Mackay
Tall Ibrahim [B Robson 51] ;[N Hunt 60] ;[B Robson 70] ;[B Robson 78] David [4] Robertson
4 of 010 ----- L SPL H

Levein adds to the misery

Hearts 0 / Dundee United 4
Alan Campbell at Tynecastle

JUDGMENT DAY finally arrived for Hearts yesterday, and how they were found wanting. A second half Barry Robson hat-trick helped give Dundee United their biggest victory at Tynecastle for quarter of a century, and triggered a vicious reaction from the stands.

As skipper Craig Gordon trooped dejectedly up the tunnel, a spectator shouted: "Where's the heart, Gordon?" The Scotland goalkeeper turned in his tracks and hurled the captain's armband in his detractor's direction.

The band, which symbolises the shambles Hearts have become on the field this season, landed harmlessly on the roof of the dugout just vacated by Craig Levein and his United staff, but the incident summed up the mood at Tynecastle. When both teams were reduced to 10 men in the first half, it was United who successfully adapted to the changed circumstances.

That the victors' shape was masterminded by former Hearts captain and manager Levein only added to the misery of the supporters who once idolised him. The home coaches, by contrast, left a glaring gap in the right side of their side's defence when they went down to 10 and United exploited it to the full.

This was Levein's first visit to Tynecastle since replacing Craig Brewster at Tannadice earlier in the season, and he was delighted at the outcome.

"We ran out worthy winners and I don't think anyone would argue with that," he said. "To win at Tynecastle is extremely difficult - to keep a clean sheet is hard enough. If you'd asked me would we score four today, 100% No' would have been the answer. But we deserved to score four and I must congratulate the players."

It was no surprise that his old friend and colleague Stevie Frail looked devastated when he arrived to face the music. The assistant head coach, who was once again put in the firing line instead of Anatoly Korobochka, described the Hearts performance as "abysmal and unacceptable".

Had he been a fan, said Frail, he might well have joined the thousands who left the ground long before the final whistle.

He said: "We can sit and talk about tactics and formations, but if you don't roll your sleeves up you've got no chance."

What soon became evident, when the game started on a greasy surface and in the face of a strong wind, was that we weren't about to witness a football masterclass. Yet even those prepared to make allowances for the difficult conditions found it hard to believe the poverty of the early play.

Just about the only chance of controlling the ball was to keep it on the ground, but when this happened passes were constantly misplaced to the opposition, even reaching the stage when the team not in possession was the most dangerous. It didn't take long for both sides to resort to the long ball, which was the nail in the coffin for any sustained cohesive play.

Chances were few and far between, and even when Noel Hunt hit the post in the 25th minute it was after he'd got on the end of a typically hit-and-hope ball into the box from United left back Christian Kalvenes. It was only when referee Craig Mackay intervened just after the half hour that anything of real note occurred.

A Hearts free-kick some 25 yards out had been cleared when Mackay summoned Ibrahim Tall and David Robertson. The pair had appeared to lock antlers, and no more, so it was a huge surprise when the official produced his red card and dismissed both. It looked a very harsh call and after the game neither Levein nor Frail could shed any more light on the incident.

In the little football that had been played prior to this incident Hearts were the more dominant side, but when the sendings off resulted in the home side switching to a back three the game began to flow in United's direction. Just how much was to become evident in the second half.

Levein came down from the stand to join assistant coach Peter Houston in the dug-out after the sendings off, and if its location was unfamiliar to him he must have enjoyed the view. Admittedly the United manager wouldn't have enjoyed the lead-up to his side's first goal as Hearts midfielder Linas Pilibaitis came close to putting his side ahead with a good shot, but immediately the visitors broke away through Hunt. He fed Steven Robb, whose distribution had been poor in the first half, and in turn he slipped the ball to Barry Robson who, inside the box and on the left, beat Craig Gordon with a low shot.

The goal only emphasised that Levein had succeeded in reorganising his side far the better after both teams had been reduced to 10 men, and Hearts continued to pay the price for their three man defence when Robson made it 2-0. Hunt, who minutes earlier had shot wide when presented with an excellent goal scoring chance, was again the architect, allowing striker Jon Daly to set up his captain.

The second goal signalled the first howled protests aimed at the directors' box - not that any, like the club's owner, was actually present. It may be slowly dawning on even the most ardent believers that this kind of absenteeism is no way to run a club.

With the United players growing in confidence, the arrival of further goals were no surprise. Hearts rang the changes, including sending on 16-year-old striker Gary Glen for his debut in hopeless circumstances, but were powerless to prevent Hunt adding a third for the visitors in the 70th minute.

Robson narrowly failed to get a touch to Robb's low cross on that occasion, but the captain, wasn't to be denied and his hat-trick arrived eight minutes later when he cut in from the left to complete the rout.

"We want five," demanded the United supporters, but having had the cake they had no reason to claim the icing.

Taken from the Sunday Herald

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